The GMB union has launched a crowdfunder to help raise funds for British Gas workers who are currently striking in opposition to the company’s controversial ‘fire and rehire’ plans.
As well as the GMB Central Executive Council donating £250,000 to a stand-alone national strike fund, the union is appealing to branches, members and trade union bodies for donations to a separate public account. The fund is to be made available “to support British Gas workers and their families as they struggle for fairness and justice”.
Since launching today the fund currently stands at over £7,000, with a target to reach £10,000.
To find out more and to donate to the fund, visit: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/british-gas-strike-fund
British Gas workers have been taking strike action over ‘fire and rehire’ contracts, after parent company Centrica said it would impose cuts to workers’ pay and terms and conditions on pain of dismissal – despite reporting operating profits of over £900m in their last annual accounts.
Workers initially announced a five-day strike beginning last Thursday 7 January, after GMB members voted to reject the company’s fire and rehire pay cuts with an overwhelming 89% ‘yes’ vote for strike action. The union has this week increased the pressure on Centrica by announcing a further round of strikes set for later this month. The new strike dates, for 24 hours each day, are Wednesday January 20, Friday January 22, Monday January 25, Friday January 29 and Monday February 1.
During the first five-day strike action, the GMB reported numerous accounts of British Gas workers being bullied and intimidated by management on their special reporting helpline. The union said: “It saddens us to say that we have received lots of complaints from members about bullying tactics from British Gas.
“This started before strike action began on Thursday 7 January but has unfortunately risen since.
“Workers have reported being intimidated by British Gas into signing up to their terms, logging into their work systems, and letting their managers know whether they intend to/or indeed are striking. They are being contacted while at home – isolating or off sick.
“We do not take strike action lightly. GMB members have already been bullied and backed into a corner by the company’s continued refusal to withdraw the threat of fire and rehire.
“Enough is enough. Our members won’t be bullied anymore.”
Speaking about the British Gas strike action, GMB National Secretary Justin Bowden said: “A profitable British Gas provoked their loyal staff into strike action in the depths of winter by refusing to heed their overwhelming rejection of the fire and rehire pay cuts.
“They have now ignored a five-day demonstration by the engineers that the proposals are not acceptable.
“They are forcing further disruption on their customers all the way into next month because of the new strike dates.
“British Gas should recognise that the only way to end the disruption they provoked is to take fire and rehire pay cuts off the table.”
Stopping what is happening at British Gas is in the UK Government’s hands.
— GMB Union (@GMB_union) January 13, 2021
A Centrica spokesperson said: “We have done everything we can with the GMB to avoid industrial action. Whilst we’ve made great progress with our other unions, sadly the GMB leadership seems intent on causing disruption to customers during the coldest time of the year, amid a global health crisis and in the middle of a national lockdown.
“Over 83% of our workforce have already accepted our new terms, in which base pay and pensions are protected, including a significant majority of GMB members.
“This shows most of our people understand that our business needs to change because customer needs are changing. GMB’s mandate for strike action is weak; they are fighting against modernisation and changes which will help to protect well-paid jobs in the long term and are doing so at a time that our country needs everyone to pull together.”